NBCUniversal is pursuing American Idol and radio host Ryan Seacrest as a possible replacement for Today show host Matt Lauer, if Lauer were to leave the program next year, according a report.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that NBC executives met with Seacrest earlier this week to discuss bringing him in as the program's co-host, replacing Lauer who has told the company he might leave next year.
Executives who met with Seacrest include Today show executive producer Jim Bell; NBC News president Steve Capus; and senior vice president for marketing and communications Lauren Kapp.
The Journal reported talks with Seacrest are preliminary and could fall apart at any time and may also be a negotiating tactic for NBC executives. Yet people familiar with the matter told the newspaper that Seacrest is one of NBC's top replacement choices.
Lauer joined the Today show as co-anchor in 1997. He's known for an annual segment for the program called Where in the World is Matt Lauer.
He currently co-hosts the program with Ann Curry and previously hosted it with Katie Couric, who left to anchor the CBS Evening News for a period. There has been talk that Lauer will leave the Today show, perhaps to host his own talk program.
NBC executives began searching for possible successors to Lauer after he told them earlier this year that he was considering leaving the Today show. Seacrest has apparently emerged as a strong candidate.
Seacrest already hosts and produces a daily news show on NBCUniversal's E! network, and he has a contract with the network that runs through 2012.
Lauer's agent didn't return calls on the matter, and a spokeswoman for Seacrest declined comment on the Today show talks, the newspaper reported.